40 mile weekend

So it looks like I’m in that painful part of marathon training, guys.  I’m also going back to work tomorrow after 7 (beautiful) weeks of summer holidays, so my mind and body are crushed.

Saturday started off bright and early (for a Saturday) and I left my apartment at about 8 to get some miles in on the (boring) railway line.  At 8:35, I turned back, and continued past my place towards the beach, where I just managed to arrive at parkrun on time!  3.1 miles later (at a faster speed than I’d have liked, but still way slow compared to just a 5k), Ronnie and I set off for some laps of the beach.  We had originally intended to do one massive loop starting with parkrun, but as I’d started early, we settled for the beach, agreeing to hit the gym’s cafe afterwards for some freshly squeezed orange juice.  As the miles ticked by, I was aware that I felt a lot better than I did during the 18 miler a fortnight ago.  My muscles felt as though they could go on and on.  Unfortunately, the chaffing in unmentionable places did a pretty good job making me want to stop.  However, having company with me for that last 9 miles was amazing and really helped me through.  It wasn’t fast, but I ran my first 20 mile training run, and I didn’t collapse.  Result!

At 19.92 miles, ‘Chariots of Fire’ starting playing in my head. No joke.

The freshly squeezed orange juice was amazing.  The shower when I got home was less pleasant (I imagine) than using a dildo made of sandpaper and glued on pieces of broken glass.

Chaffed delicates + hot water and soap = tears and swearing.

Anyway, that night, Ian, myself, Liell and Grant all indulged in a curry.  And beer.  I pretty much inhaled everything that was placed in front of me, and even shared a desert with Liell, using a cocktail umbrella as a utensil (times were desperate).

While I was out running on Saturday, Ian was finishing up my bike, which he has been working on for the last few weeks whenever the weather is nice enough to work outside after he finished work at his day job.  I tell him ALL THE TIME that he needs to wear sun block when there is actual sunshine, but he just says he’s ‘building up a natural immunity to burning’.  Well, it seems to be working really well….

Bad sunburn

Despite his terrible sun care, he’s pretty good at cleaning and fixing up bikes, and because the weather was gorgeous today (the best day of 2012 by miles), we decided to give my bike a test ride.

We chose the railway line because it’s pretty flat (and my legs would shout out a ‘heeeeeeeeell no!’ if hills had been suggested).  We cycled about 10 miles out, and it was amazing how many other cyclists were out today – they were obviously all in the summer spirit today!  We soon realized, however, that life would have been a whole lot easier if we had a bell (like everyone else) to warn people when we wanted to overtake.  Luckily, my front brake squealed when I stopped abruptly, so it became our impromptu bell for the day.

I’ve posted photos of the railway line before from some of my runs along it, but today we went a little farther.  Some of the sections are like country roads, some are like trails, some are totally overgrown and bursting with stinging nettles.  We also passed loads of different animals; horses, sheep, cows, bunnies.  And my insect kill count for today must be through the roof (I’m sorry bumblebee!).

At the point where we turned back, I took a few photos, and stopped to take a few more along the way home:

My fixed up bike! Her name is Juliet.

Ian working on his guns. And sensibly covering up.

Cows. Ian didn’t want to pose with them because he felt guilty that we’d both be eating them later…

This bridge actually shook when cars went over it…


So, things I learned this weekend:

  • 20 miles is a long way.
  • Cycling 20 miles is easier than running 20 miles, though chaffing and a saddle do not mix as well as I’d have liked.
  • Wearing heels after a 20 mile run is ill-advised.
  • I am glad that swimming comes first in a half ironman, because holy shit, it would sting after cycling over 50 miles and running a half marathon.

Back to work in T-minus 10 hours.  I am already in a grump!

Aberdeen Summer

Last summer there were 2 days out of 6 weeks on which it didn’t rain long enough for me to enjoy the outdoors.  Last summer was crap.  I make no secret of the fact that I pretty much hate the weather in Scotland, and this summer (so far) is shaping up to be another massive disappointment. I have had nearly an entire week off work, and apart from a freak burst of sunshine today, the views from my apartment windows have been as such:

Pass me the sunscreen!

Blinding sun!

For the record, the above photographs were taken on different days.  The fog has been pretty constant.

The positive?  There has been minimal rain, and the cloud cover means that it never gets too warm.  Although it does feel very muggy and humid during a run.  After one of my midweek runs at a pace that would normally yeild little sweat, I returned home to find I looked like this:

NB: My hair was dry (and straight) when I left the flat.

Despite the sweatfest, I am pleased that I have been keeping up with my marathon training plan since the Fraserburgh 10K, despite still having shin splints that irritate me.  I’ve just been taking things a bit more slowly than I’d like, but a mile’s a mile, right?  Part of the reason why I think I’ve been sticking to my schedule is that it’s the first thing I see when I get up in the morning, and head for my wake-up nature call:

It’s even laminated.

The sense of guilt I would feel if I couldn’t tick another day off the list would be too much for my slightly OTT organization needs.

Today was also a treat because Danielle came up to Aberdeen for a few hours to help me make chili and sourdough blueberry muffins, with her own starter that she has been taking care of.  I don’t think she was quite prepared for the size of my kitchen (miniscule).  The recipe for the chili is HERE, and it is totally delicious.  It was my friend Grant’s birthday today, and he came round after work to enjoy the results of an afternoon of cooking.  Both he and Ian gave the chili a hearty thumbs up (they cleared their plates), and Grant even snuck off with an extra muffin – the biggest of the batch!  I’ll have to take Danielle up on her offer of joining her for a hilly run to make up for devouring these by the end of the weekend!


Anyway, no race this weekend (what!?!), and Grant’s birthday drinks on Saturday night.  It has been ages since I’ve been out on the town, so I have a feeling Sunday’s long run isn’t going to be the most pleasurable of experiences.

Happy Birthday Grant!

Tough Mudder training: Part 2

Apologies in advance, this post will, I fear, lack any comedic value as I am too tired to think of anything clever, although I was ON FIRE earlier during a cheeky gossip session with a friend.

Today was my longest ever training run: 14 miles.  I had originally set out aiming for about 10, because I was feeling a bit tired, but within the first half mile of my run a guy swept past me which triggered an irrational competitive rage within me, and so it was decided: I would follow this man as far as he traveled, and then I would return home.  Unfortunately, I did not bet on this guy running nearly 7 miles further before turning around.  What an asshole (not really).

I kept up with him until just after 10 miles, but by then, after only a banana for breakfast and starting to flag, I decided to stop for a stretch, a banana blast High 5 energy gel, and a rummage through my new 3 litre Camelback (on it’s running debut) for my mp3 player to provide some motivation for the home stretch.

10 miles in, requiring more than a breakfast banana for fuel…

After hitting the milestone 14 mile mark, I hobbled to my flat, stretched, demolished a glass of chocolate milk (my new drink of the moment), and sat with my legs up against a wall for a bit, all to the amusement of my (hungover) friend Grant, who had used my sofa as a bed last night.  A quick shower later, we headed out for some comfort food, before heading back to the flat to watch some terrible old films on TV.  Both of us felt sluggish (for different reasons) and both of us were dreading our planned activity in the evening: Tough Mudder training with the rest of our (available) team members.  It was around this point in the day that I asked myself: Why did you have to run as far as that dude today, you total idiot!?!  I took advantage of the remaining time, but was all too aware of the clock ticking towards 5pm.

I would have been 100% happy with staying exactly like this for the rest of the day.

The time came to head off, and after downing an electrolyte drink, head off we did.  There were 5 of us in total, and I had planned a (horrendous) workout for us all.  We found a good sized field in Hazelhead Park and set to it. I had planned to do laps of running followed by intense circuit-style exercises.  2 laps of the field was about .4 miles, which seemed plenty to me, especially today!  Our workout was as follows:

2 x laps running

  • 20 burpees
  • 15 squats
  • 15 push ups
  • 15 sit ups
  • 20 burpees
  • 12 squats
  • 12 push ups
  • 12 sit ups
  • 20 burpees
  • 9 squats
  • 9 push ups
  • 9 sit ups
  • 20 burpees (these ones sucked hard)

.5 x lap running

  • 25 back extensions
  • 25 sit ups

.5 lap running

  • 25 leg raises
  • 25 sit ups

1x lap

  • 20 x Right leg lunges/20 x Left leg lunges
  • 10 push ups
  • 30 second plank
  • Repeat x 3

1 x lap

  • Abs (including crunches, bicycle crunches, russian twists and the cherry on top? A 4 minute plank)

1 x lap

After this, Ian took over and we did some interesting (and possibly dangerous) team building, including carrying each other across a field and hanging from monkey bars. Overall, we were working out for about 90 minutes, and by the end, we were all pretty ready for it to end.  We have decided to up the intensity in the coming weeks during bi-weekly sessions.  Delightful.

Anyway, after today, I felt I fully deserved to put my feet up and enjoy this:

Demolished in roughly 7 minutes.

No wonder my feet look like this:


My left foot. Before the 14 mile run today.

Trendy new hair, and discovering that I am the last to become aware of trendy application.

Today I ran 5 miles.  Yesterday I ran 6.  This is a vast improvement to last week, in which I ran a grand total of 10 miles, but in fairness I had no race on at the weekend for a change, and fancied a bit of a break.  Also, I continue to be concerned that my knees sound like rice krispies when I rise from a squatting position, but my GP confirms this is not an issue (and he’s a runner, so I’ll trust him).  Plus, being a teacher, one (the only) perk of my job is some sweet holiday time, and I am now on week 2 of a 2 week break for Easter.  So I got more than a ‘bit’ of a break, and I’ve enjoyed that, but let’s get back on track, shall we Rachel?  I have the Glenlivet 10k on Sunday, and as long as I can squeeze in 1 mile before then, I’ll hit 300 miles for the year by the end of the week!  This excited me for two reasons:

  1. I am on track for 1000 miles in 2012
  2. I like neat numbers

In other (totally more important) news, I had a haircut.  I have had average length hair for yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeears because every time I go to get it cut (not regularly enough, we’re talking once every year, and I’m proud of that commitment!) I chicken out and go for a ‘trim’.  Now I am not blessed with luscious, thick, strong hair (fuck you Pantene commercial, you lying hussy), and I regularly wear my hair in a ponytail.  Result?  Frazzled, wispy ends, and roughly 1/3 of my hair being broken off where I tie it up.  Not a good look.  So yesterday, armed with several photos of celebrities with cute haircuts (but much prettier faces than I could pay for), I went for the bob.  Unfortunately, I was dumb enough not to take a photo post-salon, a look I will somehow never be able to recreate, so I have, in an attempt to gloss over gross foot shots, included a photo* of my new hair in (tiny) pigtails.

*Clear skin courtesy of instagram – better than any facewash or foundation – seriously, I can see why people use this thing.

And a slightly more tousled (post sweaty workout) look:

And, because I must be one of the last people living in a first world country to discover the instagram application (all this news about Facebook dropping some sweet change to buy an application that makes your photos look old – sickeningly on the day Kodak announces bankruptcy – caused me to find out what the hell it is!), I present to you my lunch:

Not pictured: leftover chocolate, rice krispie treat, cheese and crackers, orange juice.



First Race of the Year is tomorrow!

Which means a relatively speedy 5 mile run on Friday and Body Pump this morning were probably ill-advised, but whatever – tomorrow is a 10 mile race and an automatic PB since it’s a new distance to me!  It’s nice when there’s no pressure (unless you’re having a sports massage, in which case, what are you paying for?!).  I’m still not used to long distances so don’t really know how I’m going to pace myself or anything, I’ll just see how it goes.  I will, however, be experimenting with energy-food-stuffs.

Now, I’m familiar with sports drinks as I’ll usually neck one if I have a particularly grueling gym session, but I have never really bothered on runs.  When I was in Australia I bought some powder-form Gatorade (the BEST sports drink, in my opinion, but sadly, not widely available in the UK).  I’ve made up a bottle’s worth and it took all my willpower not to neck it, because it tastes awesome.

Better than Powerade

So I’ll have this as a nice little treat before the run, but I have also bought an assortment of probably-shit-tasting energy things that I may or may not use during the run.

Not real food

I have tried the caffeine-injected jelly beans once before, and I can confirm that although initially they tasted normal, the aftertaste did indeed taste like ass, but the gels I am new to.  Anyone have any advice regarding best (as in least terrible) flavours?  And do they make a difference with performance?

Either way, watching Starship Troopers and eating Nutella from the jar probably isn’t what I should be doing just now…